the vaginal orgasm


The inimitable Jonathan Quince (who I really do believe should just officially change his name to that) provided some lovely comments to my 100 sexy things post, not the least of which was this question:

78. Forgive me for sounding ignorant of the workings of female anatomy; but if I might inquire, what’s wrong with the concept of vaginal orgasm? As far as I can tell, the nerve endings on the inside do work…

My response would be far too long for that tiny little comments box, so I’ve opened a whole new post for the subject. 🙂

First, a definition: the term “vaginal orgasm”, as I refer to it in my last post, refers to the concept introduced by Freud in the early 20th century.

From The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm by Anne Koedt:

Freud contended that the clitoral orgasm was adolescent, and that upon puberty, when women began having intercourse with men, women should transfer the center of orgasm to the vagina. The vagina, it was assumed, was able to produce a parallel, but more mature, orgasm than the clitoris.

Heh. Hence my problem with it. Kind of like magically transferring my toothache to my foot, so I can chew.

Also from The Myth, which really does explain the conundrum far better than I:

Frigidity has generally been defined by men as the failure of women to have vaginal orgasms. Actually the vagina is not a highly sensitive area and is not constructed to achieve orgasm. It is the clitoris which is the center of sexual sensitivity and which is the female equivalent of the penis.

[W]hile the stimulation may be psychological, the orgasm manifests itself physically. Thus, while the cause is psychological, the effect is still physical, and the orgasm necessarily takes place in the sexual organ equipped for sexual climax, the clitoris. The orgasm experience may also differ in degree of intensity – some more localized, and some more diffuse and sensitive. But they are all clitoral orgasms.

My problem, then, is not that I believe it’s impossible for women to have an orgasm without some kind of stimulation of the clitoris – just like some men can come while being spanked or dressing up in naughty clothes or having their ass reamed, some women can come without having any direct or indirect stimulation of their clitoris. Though I do think it’s more rare. Women who are orgasmic through intercourse may be lucky enough to have a narrower gap between the clitoris and the vagina, which means it receives greater indirect or diffuse pressure on every thrust. I have known one or two women like this.

The problem is the perception that another body part is doing the orgasming rather than the sexual organ whose function it is to orgasm. If a man comes in his pants thinking about something, is it a “brain” orgasm? Of course not. The proof is down there for him to see – his cock was hard, then it released semen, and now it’s softer. His orgasm was in his penis, regardless of the method used to bring him to orgasm.

And so it is with women. Sadly, Freud’s teachings were widely adopted by doctors, psychiatrists, and pop culture in general.

Keep in mind the most important part of this concept, the one that still resides in many minds (men’s, and women’s) today: a woman is not a real woman, frigid, something wrong with her, if she cannot manage to have this “vaginal” orgasm. Even today, it can bring worries of a sense of failure to women. I had a girlfriend ask me about it just the other week, so don’t think it’s amusing archaic thinking. It still persists today.

Those interested would probably enjoy reading The Myth in its entirety at the link above. While there are parts of it I don’t agree with as much – you have to remember that this was considered “radical feminist writing” when it was penned thirty years ago, and goes into discussion that I don’t think holds true of many of my readers (that men are threatened by female sexuality, or refuse to acknowledge women’s equality) – there are some illuminating concepts here for people who haven’t been exposed to women’s studies before.

And for the record, just so everyone who reads this knows the deal – women do not, in the majority, reach orgasm via intercourse. Statistically. From

New Study: Glamour Magazine, October 2000
Based on 1,500 women’s responses to an online poll at

In response to the question, “Do you need extra stimulation to orgasm?” the women responded:

I need “a hand” 38%
I can do it just from intercourse 28%
I need oral sex 21%
Other 10%
I need a vibrator 3%

Which backs up Shere Hite’s findings thirty years earlier, who found 26% of women could orgasm via intercourse.

There. Did that help to explain my position a little better? 🙂

About the author

Vikki McKay


  • Ah, that sexual response is an individual thing? I guess men are actually the poorer sex in that regard, since “the utlimate blowjob” is supposed to work for everyone. Oh well. Just goes to show that most generalities aren’t worth the small minds they live in.

  • It seems to me that the evolution of the orgasm doesn’t evolve with the reality of how it occurs but instead with the theories of “scientist” who study only a particular aspect of it. Yes, the clitorious is A sexual organ but than it seems to me that it has been defined as such because well, women had to have one right? What I find baffling is why the “research” hasn’t been expanded upon since the sexual revolution and the admission from women of acheiving orgasm without clitorial stimulation or even vaginal penetration. I mean if orgasm can be acheived without either of these things…and it can…then doesn’t the definition of sex organ have to be expanded?

  • Oh I don’t know, Ainsley. By all rights, then, we should include men in this study as well, looking for more sex organs on men as well, since we all know that orgasm can also be achieved in some men without touching the penis.
    In my opinion (not to slam you, hon – just my opinion) “looking for more sex organs” is just silly. When you have an orgasm, do you feel it in your pelvis? Of course you do. When you have an orgasm from having your nipples sucked, your *nipples* don’t orgasm, *you* do – and by *you* we mean your sexual organ.
    Countless biological studies have shown that we all start life as a zygote, with a small puff of tissue in the genital area. For those with the boy chromosomes (I can never remember if it’s X or Y), that little puff develops into a penis. For those with the girl chromosomes, that puff develops into a clitoris. People didn’t just “give” women a clitoris because we had to have something analagous to a man’s – to the contrary, for hundreds of years no one knew that the clitoris existed, including doctors (sad as that is to say).
    And the definition of “sex organ” has already been rather broadly defined – as it should – by the saying that “the brain is the biggest sex organ on your body”. If your mind is unbearably aroused by something, all kinds of things can happen in your body – including orgasm.

  • Thank you thank you thank you. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been asked “where” I had my orgasm, only to disappoint the asker by telling him there’s only one place. And then there’s the horrid competition among women who seem to believe there is a mythic vaginal orgasm and don’t want to feel like they can’t have one so they make up wildly elaborate stories about them to shame the other girls in the room into admiting they’ve never had one.
    This information should be widely distributed and no one should feel bad about not having an “according to Freud” orgasm since, remember, Freud was a coke fiend with a penis so what the hell does he know?

  • I’m recommending this everywhere as refreshing, eye-opening, sex-positive and woman-celebratory reading for all cunt-lovers:
    The Story of V:Opening Pandora’s Box, by Catherine Blackledge, Ph.D.
    She reports voluminously on clits, cunts, and female orgasm. She made me feel strong and powerful as a female sexual animal.
    Cervical orgasm, anyone?

  • Everybody’s body is different. I didn’t know until a year ago (I’m 33) that I enjoyed g-spot stimulation. My orgasms vary in intensity and duration, depending on a whole score of factors. Whatever works for you, works for you. Period.

  • I also have to add a bit of info about Helen O’Connell’s magnificent research into the size of the clitoris. In 1998 she found the clit was really quite large, with large amounts of erectile tissue existing deep within the pelvis, and two bulbs extending down either side of the vagina.
    Thus, “Vaginal” orgasms that occur without any visible external stimulation are most likely caused by the hidden structures of the clitoris. I also believe G-spot orgasms are a result of the clitoris’ influence.
    Wrote an article about this a few years ago 🙂

  • i never really thought of it in political terms.
    i know i have the most intense orgasms with a partner when there is penetration involved, but when masturbating there is never penetration for me.
    seems funny to me that what makes us come is so politicized. intersting. not bad. not good. but very interesting.

  • My boyfriend is very frustrated with me because I do not have orgasms during intercourse.
    I am very happy with our sex life. I have no complaints. I enjoy all of it. But he is really making me angry by pressuring me to do something I simply cannot do.
    If only 28% of women claim to have orgasms without clitoral stimulation (and I suspect some of them are not truthful) its unfair to expect the rest to somehow transform themselves into that elite group.
    The irony is that in my boyfriend’s efforts to “please me” according to his male-centered expectations…he’s really alienating and offending me.

  • I can have a vaginal orgasm without any clitoral stimulation. Even a fingering can make me have a vaginal orgasm. The orgasm is felt in yur vagina not your clitoris.

  • Dear Vikki, I agree with some of the things you’re saying and disagree with others. (1) I can orgasm in ways that do not involve any – direct or indirect – stimulation of the clitoris. One of these ways is during vaginal penetration (with penis, fingers, dildo)(2) While this is an orgasm DURING penetration I hesitate to call it an orgasm SOLELY THROUGH penetration. Other factors play an indispendable role: I get very excited and when I get very excited and enjoy penetration I start moving the muscles surrounding my vagina and this gives me great pleasure. Without these movements, the sheer penetration would NOT make me orgasm. I have even had orgasms with these factors present and WITHOUT any other physical stimulation – whether clitoral or vaginal – from sheer excitement. This would indicate that I am simply one of those women who orgasm easily, even without clitoral stimulation (like some men can orgasm without stimulation of the penis), in every way, not specifically the vaginal way. And indeed the clitoris is the only part of my body where purely physical stimulation suffices to make me orgasm. I can stay completely passive and still orgasm. This is not the case with the vagina. On the other hand, while the excitement and the muscle movements are necessary for me to reacht a preorgasmic state during vaginal penetration, once I have reached this level THE PURELY PHYSICAL STIMULATION FROM THE PENETRATION can make me orgasm. (And, by the way, it is not as they say only the first part of the vagina that is responsive to stimulation ‘since there are no touch-sensitive nerve-endings in the deeper part of the vagina’. As a matter of fact, the deeper the better. I especially enjoy the right amount of pressure to my uterus. In general, it is not touch-sensitive nerve endings that matter with vaginal stimulation. It is firm pressure by which the tissue ‘behind’ the vagina walls is stimulated. And the harder the thrusting the better.) (3) (And this is the point I want to make) AS GINA SAID ON AUGUST 31: I do not feel this orgasm in my clitoris, I feel it much deeper inside. As a matter of fact, while after an orgasm reached by clitoral stimulation my clitoris is still erect and over-sensitive, this is not the case with an orgasm reached during penetration. In fact, IT SEEMS REALLY NOT MUCH HAS HAPPENED THERE. So it is your claim that all orgasms ‘take place in the clitoris’ I do not really understand. First of all. ‘take place in’ is rather vague. Do you mean the physical effects, the physical manifestation of orgasm is (solely) in the clitoris? Obviously this is not true. According to most sexuologist (although there is some controversy about whether this is always the case) maybe the most significant manifestation of an orgasm (esp. an orgasm resulting from clitoral stimulation!) are the muscle contractions in the VAGINA. Maybe MSNAUGHTY (July 29) is right and it is parts of the clitoris inside the body which are responsible for the effects of vaginal stimulation, I don’t know. But I don’t have the impression that this is what you mean, Vikki. I think your claim is that orgasm always ‘takes place’in the clitoris as we know it, and this simply seems unlikely for me. Anyway, even if MSNAUGHTY is right, the fact remains that I feel the orgasms through penetration somewhere else than in the clitoris as we know it. So Vikki, how can you, from your point of view, explain that I do NOT feel these orgasms in my clitoris and that afterwards there are no signs of it even having been erected? I’m curious.
    Also, to OLYMPIA (July 26), maybe you experience all your orgasms in your clitoris, I don’t know, but I can tell you I don’t and while I can believe it must be annoying to feel somethins is expected from you that you simply don’t experience, I can also tell you it is pretty annoying to hear women state – time after time- that what you experience is impossible and non-existent and that you are in other words a liar and a faker trying to live up to male expectations, as in fact, you do, with your allusion to ‘making up wildly elaborate stories to shame the other girls in the room’. (Many women don’t even consider the possibility of indirect clitoral stimulation during intercourse and simply discard the possibility of orgasm during intercourse wthout ‘handwork’ altogether)

  • The problem with polls like the one mentioned are that it may be more likely that women that can’t orgasm will answer the poll.

  • I agree with alot of the comments stated above. But also disagree to some. I myself cannot experience an orgasm through just having intercourse, however, I can experience extreme pleasure from intercourse.But without having oral stimulation or by rubbing the clit, (for me)there is no intense “explosion” inside. while having sex I can only have an orgasm if my clit is in turn being stimulated. Even though during sex if I am riding him, and the clit is rubbed with my movements I can have a more intense orgasm with the penetration. I like being able to express my feelings on this subject and apprieciate everyone who has commented on this too. It makes me feel a little more secure as well as not being a freak b/c of my bodies reaction to vaginal orgasms.

  • I lost a potential mate who I cared for because I would not penetrate, I only wanted to give her oral and manual stimulation. I feared, quite rightly I found out later, that she liked penetration because it gave her come control over the man, sort of a right to “nest” with the man if she was penetrated. Orgasms were second on her mind.
    I always felt that if the man was not anxious to dive in, so to speak, then he was not truly in love. It’s the whole person we need to be enthusiastic about, all of her (or him).
    Anyway, this lovely lady ran away and found an old fashioned man who would penetrate. It wasn’t love, but housing, shacking up. Eventually she came back to me to reconcile, but she made me feel the need to penetrate to compete. It was cold, like being raped, no longer the same. Missionary sex with her became an obligation, just to keep our options for reconcilation open. But, true fun in bed never came back.
    I am generally Freudian, but in this Sigmund had it wrong.

  • I enoyed orgasm though oral sex with my clitorious. That was a fantastic feeling.I got it better than an intercourse.

  • I am currently seeing a woman who becomes too over-sensitive to clitoral stimulation as she approaches orgasm. She cannot take the contact any longer and has to pull away from my tongue or fingers, or stop masturbating. This makes it so very frustrating for her. Is there anything she can do to achieve her orgasm – I have looked at so many sites on the internet for advice, and none of them look anywhere near being able to provide any guidance or suggestions.

  • There are 3 types of female orgasm. clitoris,g spot and cervical. I am not denying the fact some women can get there by fantasizing or by stimulation of other body parts.
    For some reason many experts dont recognise anything but the clitoris orgasm. Probably because most orgasmic women do it that way.
    It turns out most women can only orgasm one way, and under the right circumstances.
    So work with your partner to find what works for you, or find a partner that cares enough to listen to what you need.

  • It is certanly true that some women can orgasm simply by vaginal means. I know this for a fact. My African GF of olden times was able to have full orgasms when aroused by merely inserting the tip of a finger into her vaginal opening very gently (from the anal side of her pudenda) and not stimulating the clitoris at all. She could have a couple like this and would also come on being entered if she was feeling well aroused. I would say based on the 100 women I have had (about 100! I don’t tally like that) some 10% of woman can achieve orgasm from vaginal stimulation only and yes, about 30-40% of women appreciate “a hand” now and then, yours or theirs, on the clitoris during intercourse.
    I also know women who can orgasm when they urinate (during pregnancy) and even fantasize (again in special hormonal states.)- so where does this put the “physical orgasm?”
    I think the “Myth of the Vaginal orgasm” is party anti-Freudian and healthy, but party the unheallthy political obsession of Lesboid feminists, who hate the idea of the “passive” vagina being able to pleasure a woman totally without her “minature penis” (which they triumphalize about being better than it’s larger male clone) being first and foremost.
    A lot of this reads like the debate between uncut and cut men for sexual pleasure. Yes the foreskin feels wonderful when manipulated and rolled. But yes, the bare taut skin of a circumcised member feels great in direct contact with the vaginal wall. And which one has the “stronger” orgasm? The answer is, neither. Just as an uncut man can have a small orgasm one day and a huge, explosive gasper in other circumstances ( sexual, social, fantasy whatever), the same holds for cut men. Sometimes I feel very sexy but have a “quiver and dribble”..sometimes, for no reason known to me exactly, I have a volcanic orgasm that leaves me shuddering and with the same woman! Male and female orgasms in the end are not in the anatomy, the clit, the foreskin, the glans or whatever, but in the ever mysterious mind.

  • I should also add that I have had intercourse with an infibulated ( excised or “female circumcised”)tribal woman who had the whole of her clitoris and labia removed in a tribal rite. She is capable of repeated orgasms from vaginal intercourse. This tallies with a report in 2004/5 on yahoo and others (not reported very far because it offends political correctness) where thousands of “circumcised” Nigerian women were interviewed and a majority reported they could and did have orgasms.

Follow Me